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SUPER BOWL XLIII

STEELERS VS CARDINALS

2/1/09

 

3* Steelers -6.5 over Cardinals - We went in to Championship weekend with a shot at picking up a couple of units on the year for our key releases. Unfortunately, we dropped both title games, both of which we would play all over again presented with the exact same scenarios. In other words, we really liked both plays. So we end the year down a couple of units and we move on. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint.

For the Super Bowl, we're going to make a small play on the logical side. We're not going to get into a bunch of yards per points numbers and so on, to make our case here. We're simply gong to make it a short, common sense argument. You again have to remember the long term approach here. You're going to make a play on this game based on situations and analysis that have proven successful over the long run. As a result, you may win or loss this particular game,  but over a career of betting sports, you're more likely to win more of these than you'll lose. Don't get caught up in the "right now" and certainly don't go crazy betting ten times your normal amount just because it's the Super Bowl. That's just plain moronic.

Having said that, it's hard not to back the better team here. It should be obvious to anyone who's watched a lick of football all year who the better team is from top to bottom here, and that's the Steelers. Sure, the Cards have made it this far and deserve all the credit in the world. Likewise, they could even win this game. Football games take on a life of their own after the opening kick off. A few breaks going their way, an early lead taking the Steelers off their game plan and a momentum run like we see over and over again in football games in general, and we could have an upset.

But we can't make a selection based on what if's. What if the Cards get an early lead. What if Big Ben has a terrible game. What if, what if, what if. Anything can happen but you have to base your selection on the facts. You have to take into account what both teams have done lately, as well as over the course of the entire season. If you do that, you can only arrive at one conclusion. The Steelers will be world champs.

Where would you like to start. Coaching? Ok, let's call it even. Though I think the edge goes to the Steelers here. Defense? Not even close. The Cards hardly have a playoff worthy defense, never mind championship. Offense? Ok, the Cards have been a fantastic offensive team all year long and you'd have to give them a slight nod offensively. But it's slight folks. The Steelers offense is very underrated due to the fact that the defense takes center stage. The Steelers have plenty of weapons offensively. Rothlisberger is perhaps one of the best QB's in the entire NFL when he gets out of the pocket. The guy can make things happen. Hines Ward, even at less than 100% commands attention. Heath Miller, Willie Parker. Etc. This is an offense that can be just as lethal as the Cards and more importantly, they are more complete. They have the better offensive line, the better backs, they can move the ball thru the air or on the ground and should have no trouble putting together long drives that keep Warner and company off the field.
 

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Much has been made about the Cards offense and in particular, Larry Fitzgerald. Rightly so. The guy is amazing. He's a Plaxico Burress type receiver, in that, if you get the ball anywhere close to him, he'll make the play. He's the type of receiver that makes QB's look great. Much has also been made of Kurt Warners ability to pick up the blitz and capitalize. Again, rightly so. Teams blitz the Cards which sets up Fitzgerald in man to man coverage which in turn can be a disaster.

But things may be a little different against the Steelers. Enter Dick Lebeau, the Steelers defensive coordinator. The defense he created, back in the 80's, was a direct result of attempting to stop, or slow down, the emerging West Coast offenses, which spread the field out and get rid of the ball quickly. Rather than play man to man when they blitz, the Steelers "Zone Blitz". Meaning they play zone behind the blitz. In other words, this defense was set up to stop QB-Receiver tandems like Warner to Fitzgerald. The defensive scheme is also what makes a guy like Troy Polamalu great. He's all over the field. QB's can't keep track of him. They throw into what they think is man to man coverage and then bam, where did he come from as he picks off the pass and takes it in for 6.

The Cards are a great story and plenty capable of a shocker. But don't count on it. Talent generally wins out in this game, especially when the gap is as large as it is here. It's always tempting to take a live dog. Especially for this handicapper, who bets probably 90% underdogs in all sports. But there's only one way to look here.

 Lastly, don't get caught up with the point spread. In the NFL in general, if you can pick the straight up winner of a game, you'll also cover 80% of the time or so. Of course, it's not always easy to just pick the straight up winner. But that figure is magnified in Super Bowls. In other words, if you managed to pick the straight up winner of every Super Bowl, you would have covered most of them. Don't have time to get the exact figure, but it's most Super Bowls. Just for the sake of this article, we went back 12 years and see that you'd be 10-2 against the spread in that time had you just picked the straight up winner. (a couple of pushes if you didn't get the right number). Point being, don't bet the Cards if you think they'll lose, but will "hang". Only bet the Cards if you're confident they will win outright.

Our play for Super Bowl XLIII is the Pittsburgh Steelers -6.5 over the Arizona Cardinals. We'll call it a 3* Key Release.

We also lean towards the Over 46.5 here as well. Again, the Steelers offense is underrated. They can put points on the board. The Cardinals are going to get their points, but the Steelers will make more plays......i.e. more points. A score of 35-21 or so wouldn't be a surprise.

Props? There's a Gazillion props. Just about impossible to analyze them all. There is one that stood out earlier in the week. Will their be a defensive or a Special teams TD scored. The price earlier this week was +170 and is now +145. But shop around. It seems likely that there will be.

Remember. It's just another game. Enjoy and Good Luck!

 

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